JK Unexpected Divorce Hearing Entrance Video

How do you ruin a beautiful moment that inspires the whole world by turning into a spontaneous viral video?  You spoof it, of course.  You know them, you love them.  They walked down the aisle together in dance and song and joined hands in blissful, wonderful holy matrimony…. only to repeat the dance as they entered the courtroom to begin divorce proceedings.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jill and Kevin as their marriage is torn asunder, albeit with a lot of panache and style.

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Ha, the proof is in! Reading my books could save your life!

Crack a book and live a longer, happier life!

Crack a book and live a longer, happier life!

Okay, it’s not just my books that will make you healthier.  According to Mindlab International at the University of Sussex, reading reduces stress by a whopping 68 percent.  Here’s an excerpt from the Marie Claire article:

Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.

Now, I suppose reading something like a ransom or suicide note won’t reduce your stress, but spending some time reading the Oz Chronicles could help you live longer.  Don’t argue with science!

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My Seinfeld Script

The episode that never was!

The episode that never was!

About 15 years ago I wrote a spec script for Seinfeld.  I mailed it to Seinfeld, Hollywood, CA, and I’m sure it promptly landed in the trash upon arrival.  I’m going to do my best to find it and post it here for download, but keep in mind it was originally saved on a floppy disk. It may be long gone.  I had no idea how to structure a script for television, but I went to the bookstore, found a few teleplays and just copied the format.

Each cast member had their own storyline.  Here’s what I remember:

Jerry – While exiting the coffee shop, Jerry is accosted by a crazy bum who tells him his nipples are driving making him insane.  From that point on, Jerry becomes acutely aware of his nipples.  He can’t stop thinking about them.  It gets to the point where Jerry goes to a doctor to see if there is anything that can be done for his nipples.

Elaine – For some reason, Elaine is accused of being a Rush Limbaugh fan.  She goes out of her way to prove that she is militant liberal.  I have no idea where this subplot came from, but I just remembering that I thought being called a conservative would really set Elaine off.

George – Everyone’s favorite neurotic starts dating a supermodel, but to his horror he catches her on the toilet.  It is too much for him.  He has to breakup with her.  Jerry agrees with him that anyone who has the word “super” in her name should be beyond the need to go to the bathroom.

Kramer – The wild-haired neighbor devises a get rich quick scheme that his fail proof.  As a novelty (think pet rock), he will create an adoption program for celebrities’ butts.  He begs Jerry to put his butt up for adoption.  Jerry of course refuses, but when Kramer learns that Jason Robards will be in town, he is convinced that the legendary actor will jump at the chance to put his butt up for adoption.  A proctologist (this is pre-Assman, btw) with ties to the mafia fronts Kramer the start-up money.  When Kramer can’t deliver any butts, the proctologist sends some goons to get his money back.

This, my friends, is proof that not every idea is a good idea.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that wrote a spec script for their favorite TV shows.  Anyone else want to fess up?

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I feel bad for Tuesday because it is the most overlooked day of the week. No great song has ever been written about Tuesday.  TV sucks on Tuesday.  Nobody plans for anything special to happen on Tuesday.  True, there is Mardi Gras, but it’s really the day before the special day (Ash Wednesday).  And yes, there is the inspirational book, Tuesday’s With Morrie, but that guy died at the end.  I guess we do vote on Tuesday’s, but that usually turns out badly.

I went to Youtube and looked for a song about Tuesday, but all I could find was this Tuesday Morning Blues song.  I’m guessing it will mean something to those out there that play World of Warcraft (WoW), but it went over my head.  I’m starting to think that WoW is bordering on being a cult.

So, I just want to say on the record, I think you’re great, Tuesday.  If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have anything to blog about today, and that would ruin thousands, hundreds, dozens lives.

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What I’m reading now – Swallow Savannah

The best book Ive read since in a long, long time!

The best book I've read in a long, long time!

I rarely review a book I haven’t finished reading.  I believe I’ve made only one other exception with the book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Woa.  Excellent book by a brilliant writer.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

I have another mid-read review for you today.  Swallow Savannah by Ken Burger is one of those rare books where you find yourself reading passages out loud to friends and family because they are so skillfully written.  The prose and story are simple.  Burger’s style, on the other hand, is a literary revelation.  I have been caught completely off guard by a few of the passages, and I like to think that I can see a plot unfolding a couple of chapters ahead.  I can’t tell you how many times I have actually uttered the word “whoa” to myself while reading this book.

The story is a southern tale of a northern sociopath, Frank Finklea, who pitches his crooked tent in Bluff County, South Carolina and rises through the state legislative ranks by wielding a platform of charming greed and slime.  In his quest for power, Finklea beguiles and brutalizes everyone in his life.  You can see the deceit, sweat, and humidity deeply embedded on every page of this book.   If Harper Lee and Cormac McCarthy had a son, his name would be Ken Burger.

The one thing that upsets me about this book is that more people aren’t talking about it.  In my humble opinion, this is National Book Award and Pulitzer material.  Burger is an award winning journalist and columnist, so the notion that he and this book deserves greater recognition is not too farfetched.  Help undo this injustice.  Buy this book and recommend it to your friends.

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Lost Days – Post 22

This is the 22nd installment of the book I am currently writing. It is Sci-Fi/Adventure for young adult. It is not part of the Oz Chronicle series. The first draft is completed, and it is currently under review by my agent, so the final version of the book will most likely look a bit different than what you read here, but I thought you might like to see a work in progress. Happily my agent is busy with another one of my projects at the moment, and she hasn’t been able to give me feedback on “Lost Day”s as of yet.  Click on the “Lost Days Book” category on the right to read from the beginning. Or you can click here.

Strangely enough, I could concentrate in English.  It was like my brain had flipped into hyper focus, and for some reason I got what Ms. Lane was saying about Harper Lee.  She was brilliant.  To Kill a Mockingbird was the greatest coming of age novel written, and I was totally jealous of Scout because she had the world’s greatest father.  She got Atticus, and I got an asshole.

I made it through the rest of the day with the same kind of concentration.  For whatever reason, knowing that Ginger Starling, a girl like me, with few friends, limited social skills,  and an overall pathetic existence, had lost her mother in such a tragic way made me see things I hadn’t seen before.  Life can change in an instant.  I should have known it the way my dad left.  He just wasn’t there one day.  But for some reason that didn’t shake up my world like discovering Ginger was alive and suffering the same life I was, only worse.  She was going through it without her mother now.  I nearly cried at one point waiting for the fifth period bell to ring thinking about how much pain she was in.  By the time the sixth period bell rang to end my day at school, I knew for sure that I was going to her house.  I didn’t know what I would do when I got there, but I was going.  I had to see it, the life like mine.  I had to see the devastation first hand.  Maybe I wanted to know if I could survive it.  Maybe I wanted to know that as tragic as her loss was, that it’s still possible to go on with your life.  Maybe I was just losing my mind.

I gave Joyner a vague and confusing excuse as to why I couldn’t stay and talk to him after school, and I told Denise and Owen to go on without me.  They assumed I was staying to talk to Joyner.

When I was sure they weren’t looking, I pulled out the address to Ginger Starling’s house and headed in that direction.  Luckily, in her world that was parallel to mine, she lived closer to the school than I did. 

I stood in front of the house and soaked in every square inch of it.  It was yellow with green shutters, two stories, a big wraparound porch that had a swing, and three rocking chairs.  I could picture the family sitting there, watching the breeze come down the street and ruffle the leaves in the trees.  They were happy once.  Not anymore.  That was all gone. 

I made my way down the front walk and up the wide wooden steps.  I hesitated before I stepped on the porch.  It seemed sacred.  A flash of Harper Lee’s Alabama flashed through my head.  I could almost hear Scout’s bare feet slapping against the wood planks. 

I heard the front door open and stared at the red blotchy, tear-stained face of Ginger Starling.  She was a chubby girl.  Her hair was a kinky mess of strawberry blonde curls.  She was wearing a dress, but I could tell by her posture that she hated it.  She didn’t like dresses.   My guess is once her mother was buried she’d never wear one ever again.

She sniffled and said.  “The school send you?”

“What? No,” I said.  “I’m Hayley Wilkes.”

“I know,” she said.  “Why are you here?”

There it was.  The question I knew would be asked, but I hadn’t prepared for it.  I shifted my weight from one leg to the other and fidgeted with my fingers.  I opened my mouth to say something, but instead, I started blubbering like a baby.  Snot started flowing from my nose, and my chest hurt because I was crying so hard.  I covered my nose with the back of my hand and placed my other hand over my chest.  She looked stunned at first, afraid almost.  She took one step back.

“I’m just so sorry,” I managed to say. 

The sound of my voice eased her fears enough for her to take back the last step.  “Did you know my mother?”

I didn’t know what to say so I said the closest thing to the truth.  “My grandparents go to Dr. Thomas.  She was always very sweet and nice to them.”

She half-smiled and nodded.  “Everyone loved her at Dr. Thomas’ office.”  It was her turn to break down in tears.  There we stood, two strangers, five feet apart on a wraparound porch, both of us balling our eyes out.

“Do you have tissues?” I asked after determining there was too much mucus and overall wetness to wipe on my pants.

She laughed in between sobs and motioned for me to come into the house.   I did and fought the urge to stare at every family photo on the walls and tables.  I wanted to see them together.  It was important for me to know that they were a happy family, no divorce, no crazy uncle, no annoying mixture of generations.  Just a mother and a father and Ginger and maybe some siblings.  I just wanted them to be different from my family.  The less like me she was, the less I had to feel bad for her, and the less I had to worry that the same thing could happen to me. 

We sat on the couch in the living room and she handed me a box of tissues.  I took a half dozen and started pulling myself together.  “Are you home alone?” I asked.

“My brother’s upstairs.  He’s taking it really hard.  Dad’s at the funeral home.”  Her voice cracked.

I breathed a small sigh of relief.  She had a father.

“Kind of weird having him back in the house,” she said. 

“Your dad?” I asked feeling the tension returning.

“Yeah,” she said.  “They’ve been divorced about five years now… I guess… I mean they had been divorced, don’t I?”

She didn’t expect me to answer.  I don’t think she was even talking to me.  If I could read minds, she was asking herself how many times she was going to make the mistake, talking about her mother in the present tense.

“I had to come,” I said.  I don’t know what possessed me to say it but I couldn’t help myself.

“What?” she said in a daze.

“You asked me why I was here.  I had to come.”


“I don’t know.  I… I think it’s because I love my mother and… I can’t imagine… I had to come.”

She looked at me as if she understood. “Would you like something to drink?”

I giggled at the absurdity of her hospitality.  I couldn’t imagine that I would care if someone was thirsty if I were in her shoes.  But the awful truth was I was glad she asked because I was painfully thirsty.  The sudden draining of tears and snot must have dehydrated me.  “Water would be nice.”

She stood and went to the kitchen.  I began to stand, but paused.  I wasn’t sure if she wanted me in the kitchen, but I couldn’t bring myself to let her wait on me given what she was going through, so I entered her kitchen shortly after her.  She wasn’t expecting me, and almost dropped the cool glass of water.  I took it from her and drank quickly.  It was as if I had been in the desert all day without a drop to drink.  I surveyed the kitchen and saw her mother’s presence everywhere.  This was her room.  She loved it.  I saw a stack of steel bowls on the counter, one bigger than the next, and I knew baking was her thing.  That’s what she did to relax.

Ginger hugged herself.  “This used to be my favorite room.  My mom loved it.  She was always making something, cookies, bread, cakes… but mostly cookies.  That’s why I’m so fat. She could have opened up her own bakery.”

“My mom doesn’t cook at all,” I said for myself more than her.  Our lives were different.  Weren’t they?  I finished the last drop of water and placed the glass in the sink.  I noticed a small ceramic owl on the window sill.  I careful picked it up, “Your mom liked owls?”

Ginger rolled her eyes.  “She was a freak about owls.”

“That’s cool,” I said.  “They said at school that you didn’t want flowers.  You wanted people to make donations to some bird thing.” 

“The IBW,” she said.  “The Illinois Bird Watch. Mom was on the board.  They help to protect threatened and endangered species of birds in Illinois.  Mom joined when she found out some owl was on the list of endangered species.  She practically ran the thing.”

“How do they help?  I mean what do they do to protect the birds?”

“They raise money.  Complain to politicians when public lands are encroached upon by developers and the timber industry.  Mom lives on the phone some nights doing IBW business… Lived, I mean.”  Her eyes went vacant.  She was keeping score.  That’s twice she’d put her mother in the present. 

I put the owl back on the sill.  “I should go,” I said.

She nodded.

“I’m sorry I came here,” I said.

She shrugged.  “I don’t mind.  You’re the only one who has.”

“I just don’t think people know what to say,” I said trying to make her feel better.

“They don’t have to say anything,” she said.  “It would just be nice…” She stopped herself.  I got the feeling she didn’t think she had a right to complain that none of her classmates cared enough to comfort her in her hour of need.  She wasn’t popular enough. 

“I could stay,” I said.

A single tear escaped the corner of her eye.  “I’d like that.”

We walked back into the living room and sat back down on the couch.  Ginger Starling, a girl I didn’t know existed that morning, laid her head on my shoulder and cried herself to sleep.  I sat rigid and uncomfortable, afraid to disturb her. Her father returned from the funeral home accompanied by a mountain of man with a shaggy beard and a name that sounded like A-Rod.

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Old Ladies on a Plane – Episode 8 “Non-episode episode or New Moon Trailer Reaction Video”

This may be the end of the ladies. Unfortunately, it will not be the end of the Twilight series to movie adaptations.

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Question of the day – What was your first concert?

So, the Michael Jackson post turned into a discussion about musical preferences, and it made me get a little nostalgic.  I attended my first concert in 1977 when I was 11-years-old in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The artist was the incomparable “talk box” artist, Peter Frampton.  “Do you feel like I do,” was his signature song at the time, and I was chomping at the bit to see how he made that guitar talk.  I remember being really irritated that he actually played other songs.  My tastes diverged into the Southern Rock, Blues, and Pop arena shortly thereafter, so obviously the experience did not shape my musical preferences.

How about it?  What was your first concert experience?  Did it shape your listening habits for the rest of your life?  While you are perusing memory lane, here’s a little taste of Mr. Talk Box himself:

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An Open Letter to the President of Television

One half of Hassaula! BTW - this is the most uncomfortable Ive felt on my own blog!

One half of Hassaula! BTW - this is the most uncomfortable I've felt on my own blog!

Dear President of Television,

Can you do me a favor?  Can you stop spreading your crazies out so thin?  You’ve got David Hassalhoff on one show, Paula Abdul on another, and that guy Dog is way over on another show.  There are probably other whacked out reality TV stars that I don’t know anything about because you’ve got them all over the dial.  I have one word for you, consolidate.  Put all your crazies on one show.  In fact, I would suggest that you have Hassalhoff marry Paula, and then have Dog move in as the house guest who refuses to leave.  Bam!  Instant hit!  You could even have “Hassaula” (the show even has a built in power couple name) adopt Amy Winehouse.  I know she’s not a reality star, but c’mon, she’s a total train wreck.  She was made for reality TV.

I’m afraid I’m going to continue not watching reality TV until this consolidation takes place.  I don’t have the physical or emotional stamina to watch all that crap!

Yours truly,

R.W. Ridley

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